Vail 266 has seen me at my worst. But I also believe it has seen me at my best. Looking back to the beginning of freshman year, I can not explain the transformation that has taken place in my heart and life except by saying that God was with me. He saved me. He healed me. He most definitely carried me through.
I entered my freshman year heartbroken, anxious, and uncertain about the future. I was tired. I was restless because I had spent the past few years running. Running from God. Running to boys and sports and friends, selfishly focused and trying to find healing in all of the wrong places. I don’t think this was outwardly dramatic. People probably looked at my life and thought I had it all together. Pastor’s kid. Intern. Straight-a student. Volleyball player. Good, christian girl. But internally I felt incomplete and discontent. Then I moved to Samford and all of the idols I had ever clung to were ripped away from me. I had the choice to keep running, or I had the choice to let God do the work in me that He desperately needed to do. I chose the latter.
I distinctly remember attending a church service the first or second week of school where God told me that He was going to be enough for me. Embarrassingly enough, I wept. I knew where this was going. God would be enough for me, sure. But I would be alone. I wouldn’t have fun. I wouldn’t have any friends. I would be single until I was 30, waiting on God to work in my life. Waiting in anticipation and hoping that one day He would show up. It would be a life of mundane boredom, a life of being that lame, too-good Christian girl that no one wanted to hang out with. And in the midst of it all, I had no idea how Christ could possibly fulfill the deepest longings of my heart. I had spent my entire life in church! I read my bible, I prayed, I knew all of the Bible stories, and I attended small groups. If He hadn’t been enough for me up until now, how could He possibly be enough for me now?
I was out of options though. I had nothing to cling to except Him. And I had enough faith and encouragement in my life to give me hope that I could somehow find joy and contentment in the Lord. So I started seeking Him. I sought Him on my worst days and I sought Him on my best days. On my worst nights, I literally fell to my knees on the floor of Vail 266 and cried out to Him for Him to do something, change something. Slowly but surely, God taught me how to rest in Him.
I like to describe the first semester of my freshman year as open heart surgery. I felt like I was constantly squirming in pain and discomfort as God brought things to the surface for me to work through and deal with. He ripped away the religious gunk that had encompassed my heart for years. He allowed me to enter into a relationship with Him founded on trust and love. After a particularly difficult night, with the help of my pastors, I realized that after some traumatic life circumstances, I had pushed God out because I didn’t trust Him when He asked me too. I felt like He had let me down. I felt like I had to take control and figure out life on my own. And I made a mess for myself. I hurt a lot of people and I hurt myself. That night, I repented and I decided to begin trusting God. It was a slow process of Him teaching me how to trust again, love again. There were a lot of ups and downs, highs and lows. But the Bible is sincere in saying, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). For the first time in my life, I began to give God my whole heart. I was no longer hoarding a few things in the corner, nervous to give them up for God to deal with. It was complete and total abandonment.
“I called on your name, O LORD,
from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called on you;
you said, ‘Do not fear!’
You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
you have redeemed my life.”
I truly believe God uses our darkest seasons to draw us close to Him. We can choose to let the trials of life refine us, or we can choose to run from them. Pastor Bené gave a wonderful word about seasons at B.set.Free this past week. She reminded us not to get out of a season prematurely, but to trust God, persevere, and allow God to do the work in us that He is trying to do. It is only a season!
I never thought last semester would end. The pain and anxiety I felt seemed to be unbearable. But God was supernaturally working in me to bring me to a place of peace and contentment. My feet now stand on something unshakeable. I walk every day with confidence because I know God truly, truly loves me. He will take care of me. He has good things for me. I believe these truths from the depths of my soul for the first time ever. I am amazed more and more by the gospel every single day. In my quiet moments, there is peace. Life is not perfect, but I stand on something greater than I. There is hope. There is purpose. There is truth and freedom.
It’s easy to look at people walking in the power of God’s word and believe that that’s not possible for you. I am a walking testimony to say that it is! If God can heal my heart, He can heal yours. If God can save my soul, He can save yours. If God can forgive my sins, He can forgive yours. He is the ultimate healer, sustainer, and redeemer. But you have to believe, you have to press in, you have to truly seek Him above all else.
Vail 266 saw me at my worst, but it also saw me at my best. I am more myself than I have ever been. Confident. Loved. Free. Unshakeable. I am expectant and excited for the coming seasons of life. Knowing God is an adventure greater than anything this world has to offer. Don’t run from your pain. Don’t run from your brokenness. Let God work it to completion. Press in. Hold tight. Get to know your creator! He is good. He is good. He is oh, so good.
Thank you, God, for the highest highs and the lowest lows. You are there in the midst of our most pressing circumstances. You never leave our side. Thank you for seasons of growth and discovery. Thank you that you use our pain for something good! Help us to know you more. Give us a desire to seek after Your true heart. Show us who we are in You! Sustain us through this season and the seasons to come. Amen.
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in thee.” -St. Augustine